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Everything You Need to know About Carl Jung Shadow


There is more to each of us than meets our eye. There are parts that we wish weren’t there, and Jung shadow that we keep inside.

Carl Jung was one the most important psychologists of the 20th Century. He believed everyone had a shadow side, which they suppressed from childhood.

This shadow often is associated with negative emotions. It is only by accepting, and not ignoring, our shadow sides that we can truly understand ourselves.

This article will cover all you need to know concerning Carl Jung and the shadow.

What’s the shadow personality?

Understanding your shadow is the first step to understanding it.

Jung believed that the human mind was composed of three components.

  • The ego is what we are conscious of when we think about our own self.
  • The personal unconscious is all information that someone does not consciously remember.
  • The collective unconscious — Another form of the unconscious but one that is shared by all.

Jung believed that 12 typical human traits and flaws were derived from our collective unconscious. These he called archetypes. One of these archetypes is the shadow self.

Some people simply consider the shadow to be an unconscious part of their personality. Others view the shadow as the part of us we don’t like.

How do you define the shadow? These are the three most important characteristics of shadows:

1) The shadow is a part of our personality we suppress, often because it’s too painful for us to admit.

2) The shadow is the unconscious, hidden part of our personality.

3) The shadow refers to the characteristics we fear are less attractive to others.

Our suppressed personality is the shadow

The shadow is a part of you that you have suppressed since birth. It’s often difficult to accept the shadow because it is so hard.

It’s possible to be unable to comprehend why you act in certain ways.

They might have made you feel ashamed or threatened to make you vulnerable or weaker. Perhaps you were afraid of losing control of your life if they were acknowledged.

As you grow up, you have learned to accept parts of yourself so you can fit in with society.

It is important to remember that your shadow can be difficult to access if you keep it hidden.

It is harder to ignore it the more it grows. Jung once wrote.

“Everyone has a shadow. The darker and denser the shadow is, the less conscious it is. Conscious inferiority can be corrected if it is recognized and acknowledged. But, if it is suppressed and removed from consciousness, it cannot be corrected and may explode in an instant of unawareness. It is an unconscious snag that hinders our best intentions and can be a hindrance to our best efforts.

JUNG SHADOWYour unconscious mind is the jung shadow

People often ask “Is the shadow self an ego?” But the ego actually represents the conscious part of your body that attempts to subdue shadow.

The shadow is therefore the hidden part in your psyche. We mean something that is not conscious, which means it is somewhere that isn’t in our awareness but still exists.

Jung’s theories suggest that each person has a personal unconscious. This unconscious is based on our individual experiences. We also have a collective unconscious that is biologically inherited from our parents and programmed into our brains. This is based upon universal themes about what it means to be human.

Both of these are in your unconscious mind.

It is helpful to consider the unconscious as the immense storehouse of knowledge and belief systems, memories, and archetypes deep within each human being.

This means that our shadows are also forms of knowledge we carry with us.

The shadow can be thought of as a library that contains information we have never seen before. The shadow begins to reveal its contents once we begin accessing them. Some of these contents are negative while others are positive.

However, no matter the content, the shadow contains information about us that we don’t know.

The shadow is the opposite of the light

Shadow is the opposite of light. For many people, the shadow is also the opposite of light.

The shadow is bad stuff we don’t want or can’t acknowledge, so our ego pushes them away. It’s the source of positive growth and greater understanding.

It’s not all bad. It’s actually quite beneficial to have this information because it is often the source for our creative ideas.

If you have problems at work, it may be because you are suppressing anger or resentment toward someone else. If you experience anxiety it is likely that you are suppressing your fears. If you have difficulty getting along with others, it may be because of your fear about rejection.

These are just some examples of how shadows can manifest in our lives. The shadow isn’t always bad. It is simply part of our identity that we have chosen to ignore.

Only by focusing on the “bad” parts of ourselves, can we accept our whole selves.

The eternal duality between man and nature

Since the beginning of time, this image of dual man has existed. We continue to see both sides of humanity.

We can see the best and the worst in ourselves, no matter how we try to reject it.

Remember that they are not mutually exclusive. They can coexist, but they are not mutually exclusive. They are one and all the same.

This idea has been a constant fixture in spiritual and psychological teachings through the ages.

The idea of yin/yang is a concept from Ancient Chinese philosophy that highlights the interconnectedness between opposing forces. They can only work together to create the whole. They are interdependent and interrelated.

Jung was the one who developed the idea of the shadow self, but he also drew on ideas from Friedrich Nietzsche (philosopher) and Sigmund Freud (philosopher).

Famous literature and the arts also include themes of the shadow self, where man attempts to understand his darker side.

This is illustrated by the fictional Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale.

Dr. Jekyll is our persona, how we see ourselves. Mr. Hyde represents the shadowy and ignored parts of us.

Jekyll’s conscious attempts to be morally upright fall short of his instinctive inner self (Hyde). This is when Hyde can emerge:

“At that point my virtue was slumbered, but my evil, kept awakened by ambition was alert and quick to seize the opportunity; and the thing that was projected, was Edward Hyde.”

Why should we suppress the shadow?

It is not difficult to see why we are so determined to get rid of our shadow selves. We all have a mask we use to be socially acceptable.

This is the part of ourselves that we wish to be seen by others. This mask is worn to be accepted and liked by society.

However, we all have instincts and desires, emotions and impulses that can be seen as destructive.

These could include sexual urges or lust. The desire to control and have power. Raw emotions like anger, aggression, and rage. Unattractive emotions such as envy, selfishness and prejudice, or greed.

We reject anything that we consider unacceptable, wrong, or bad. These parts do not magically disappear. They become our shadow selves.

Jung refers to this shadow self as the opposite of our persona (another archetype), the conscious personality we wish the world sees.

We want to be accepted by our shadow selves. Recognizing the unsightly parts of ourselves can lead to rejection or ostracization.

We hide them. They are ignored. They are not there. The oder worse, we project them onto somebody else.

None of these methods work. They don’t address the root problem. Because the problem isn’t external. It’s internal. It’s within ourselves.

How to spot your jung shadowself

What is shadow behaviour, you ask?

It’s simply when we react negatively to people, events, and situations in our lives. This behaviour is often unconscious, automatic, and unintended.

Jung believed that the shadow of our soul often shows up in dreams. It can take various dark or demonic forms. This could be snakes or rats, monsters or demons. Anything that symbolizes darkness or wildness.

It also manifests in our daily lives, though it may be different for everyone. So we all will have our own shadow behaviours.

Some are quite common, however. Here are seven ways to identify your shadow self.

1 Projection

Freudian projection is the most popular way to deal with our shadow selves.

Avoiding facing your own mistakes and displaying negative qualities on others can help you avoid making the right choices.

We are afraid we don’t deserve to be good enough. In our unconscious, we project these fears onto others. We view those around us as the problem and lacking.

This isn’t just a matter of individuals. It’s also possible for entire nations to do this, as well as cults, political parties and religions.

This can lead to deeper-rooted social issues such as racism, homophobia, and misogyny. It is easy to find a victim and blame the “other”.

The goal is always the same.

Instead of taking responsibility for any negative emotions or other negative traits you feel, it is better to pass the buck.

It is easy to project negative things about yourself onto another person. This is a classic example: A cheating spouse who accuses their spouse of having an affair.

2 Criticism and Judgment for Others

It’s because we see the flaws in others that we also recognize them. While we are quick to point out faults in others, we rarely take responsibility for our own.

When we criticize others, it’s actually us being critical. This is because we are still trying to understand what we don’t like about another person.

People may have said things like, “They don’t get along because they’re so alike that they butt heads.”

This is the same principle that applies when we judge others. It may be that you are not as different as you think.

3 Victimhood

Victimhood shows us our shadow selves in another way.

We believe there is nothing we can do to stop something that we are feeling victimized by. Instead of acknowledging our role in creating the situation we blame others.

Sometimes, we go so far as to create elaborate fantasies in which we believe we are the victim.

Self-pity can also be from victimhood. We blame ourselves instead of blaming other people. We begin to feel sorry for our own shortcomings and see ourselves as victims.

We are all looking for validation and sympathy from others, regardless of our differences.

4) Superiority

Another example of our shadow selves is thinking you are more than others.

This is often due to childhood experiences, where we didn’t get enough love or attention. We crave approval and acceptance from others as children. We may attempt to be superior if we don’t get these things.

We become arrogant and judgmental by doing this. It is only for our own feelings and thoughts of helplessness, worthlessness, and vulnerability. It makes us feel less vulnerable by putting ourselves in a powerful position.

Another example is the boss at work, who is on an absolute power trip. His “strengths” disguise his inner feelings of weakness.

5) Feeling Triggered

There are times when we all experience an impulsive, negative reaction from someone who says something.

They make comments or words that niggle or jab at deep within. It’s as if they have hit a nerve.

This is often the case with family members and parents. They may say something that causes old hurts or wounds.

What is the result? The result?

They have actually touched on something that we have suppressed as part of our shadow selves.

6) Enjoying pain

It is as bizarre as it sounds, but the pleasure of destroying others and self-destruction exists in mild forms in daily life.

Inadvertently, you might be happy when your friend fails at something. You won’t be as worried if they fail as you.

To prove yourself, you might be a workaholic and choose to do whatever it takes to get the job done. You might enjoy feeling mild pain or inflicting it in your bedroom with forms of BDSM.

7) Unhealthy Relationships

Many of us have old unconscious patterns that lead to dysfunctional, unhealthy or even toxic relationships.

Many people don’t realize that they have been playing the same unconscious roles since childhood. These familiar patterns become our default mode of interaction with others.

These unconscious patterns can be destructive and create drama in relationships.

If your mother was a bad critic, you may unconsciously repeat that behaviour towards your partner.

Anger can cause you to lash out. You withdraw when you are hurt. When you are rejected, you begin to doubt your self.

Your relationships will be dominated by old patterns from many years ago.

Why should you accept your shadow side?

Simply put, denying the shadow doesn’t work.

Our shadows will continue to pull at our strings behind the scenes, only to reinforce the illusion between our ego and the reality around us.

This illusion can lead to a false self-image that believes lies like:

” I’m better than them“, and “I deserve to have my opinion validated.” “People who behave differently from me are wrong.”

If we insist on denigrating our shadow side, it doesn’t necessarily mean it disappears. In fact, it often gets stronger.

Carl Jung said that “The shadow personifies all that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself.”

We try to live in a world that allows us to be the best version of ourselves.

This is impossible. The shadow is a defining feature, just like the yang and the yin. Without shadow, there’s no light and vice versa.

The shadows that are ignored begin to fester. As we discussed, it spreads in unhealthy ways.

We fall into the following harmful patterns:

  • Lying and cheating
  • Self-loathing
  • Self-sabotage
  • Addiction
  • Hypocrisy
  • Depression, anxiety, and any other mental health issues
  • Obsessive behaviour
  • Emotional instability

It’s worse because we don’t even know they exist. You don’t have the option to choose. It’s impossible to avoid it. This is the problem. We will never be free if we don’t acknowledge our shadows.

Connie Zweig explains it in The Shadow: The Hidden Power of Human Nature’s Dark Side.


It is our inability to acknowledge and embrace our shadows that keeps us stuck. Only by allowing the shadow to become a part of us, instead of letting it unconsciously lash out, can we control it.

Shadow work is so important. This allows you to see the shadow side of yourself. The conscious part of the mind must absorb the shadow side. We become slaves to our unconscious drives and urges if we do not.

But there is more. We can’t fully understand ourselves without embracing our shadow selves, and thus cannot grow. Here’s Connie Zweig again:

We can see that the shadow is our doorway to individuality. The shadow is the first step towards meeting the Self, as it gives us a glimpse of the unconscious side of our personalities. The shadow is the only way to access the unconscious and our own reality.

Therefore, there is no way to grow or progress until the shadow is confronted. Confronting is more than just knowing about it. Only when we are truly shocked to see ourselves as we really are and not as we hope or wish we will be, can we take the first steps towards individual reality.

It is incredibly powerful to confront all the things you have tried to hide about yourself.

It is possible to see how your shadow has affected your life. Once you understand your shadow, you can change it.

Uncovering the dark side of your soul

“Man is whole, integrated, calm and fertile when (and only when!) the process of individuation has been completed when the conscious, as well as the unconscious, learn to live in peace and complement each other.” — Carl Jung.

Jung believed that the process of individuation was a way to deal with the shadow self. It is, in essence, a merging.

Once you are able to recognize and accept your shadow self then it becomes part of your conscious psyche. This is how you can give your shadow an identity.

This is what people refer to as shadow work. It could also be called self-reflection or self-examination.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, it is vital because without it you won’t really know who you are or where you’re headed.

Shadow work is very beneficial as it allows you to gain insight into your inner world by self-questioning or self-exploration.

It is all about looking at your thoughts, emotions, and assumptions objectively. This will allow you to discover more about your own self.

You will learn more about yourself, your weaknesses, your likes/dislikes, your hopes/dreams, and your fears/anxiety.

Shadow work has many benefits:

  • Instead of being a slave to your emotions and tendencies, you can become more aware of them.
  • You will learn to recognize your needs and desires.
  • It is easier to tap into your intuitive, inner voice or compass.
  • Spiritual growth is possible when you recognize your connection to God/the Universe.
  • This will increase your ability to make better decisions.
  • This will improve your overall health, well-being, and outlook.
  • You can build self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • You deepen your relationships.
  • Your creativity will be enhanced
  • You grow wiser, more stable, more mature

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